After the recent allegations accusing Lance Armstrong of using performance enhancing drugs, Nike, Livestrong has chosen to discontinue its relationship with Armstrong.
Although this was a touch choice, in my opinion Nike made the right move by stepping back from Armstrong. Livestrong had previously supported Armstrong during his first allegation of drug usage in August and kept in mind the positive aspects from the years of partnership. However there is no telling what unpredictable circumstances may arise from this issue.
It is obvious that Nike didn’t resort to the easy way out by breaking their partnership at first word of an issue with Armstrong. They capitalized on the opportunity at hand and used the strong relationship they had built with Armstrong over many years to their advantage to work through to maintain and even strengthen their image.
The specific issue regarding performance enhancing drugs that Armstrong was accused of is crucial to Nike’s decision of continuing the relationship. If there had been another accusation against Armstrong that was unrelated to physical performance, that issue may have had a different outcome and Nike may have been more willing to work with Armstrong to dismantle it. Since the allegation is directly against Nike’s mission, it is important they hold true to their fundamental qualities, otherwise their brand value would lack integrity.
I believe it is important for Nike to remind the public of their values during this time through a PR campaign to ensure confidence in their brand and decision to let Armstrong go. If Nike ends the partnership with Armstrong by directing him to a supportive outlet or plan that could provide a positive light to the situation.
The trust created from the partnership between Nike and Armstrong is damaged and that is a valuable quality that has been betrayed. Nike has held true to their mission of Livestrong and their efforts will not go unnoticed.
Photo: Armstrong seemed to handle the situation gracefully and appropriately when stepping down as Chairman of Livestrong the same day of Nike’s decision.